Thursday, September 1, 2011


After receiving a few more positive commentaries on Syntropy I was struck again as to why I love books and movies. It’s the same reason I love life. To quote the good doctor, “Oh the places you’ll go!

I love new worlds, brave or otherwise. Books or movies without a sense of place often leave me cold. I recently read The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton and was left chilled to the unmemorable bone.
The books and characters I love all have a sense of place: Scout has Maycomb, Billy has the Ozarks, Muad’—“my name is a killing word”—Dib has Arrakis, Augustus has his little grove of pecan trees down by the creek where he and Clara used to spend time together, Harry has Hogwarts, and Booker has the Muddy Joe river bottoms. For me to find a book truly engaging, I have to fall into the pages and want to stay. When I was in the Ozark’s with Billy Colman I didn’t simply fall in love with two dogs, I fell in love with barefoot summers and patched overalls.  
Further, I believe that building a clear sense of place serves more purpose than simply creating a world for the reader to enter. I believe it promotes story telling. In the interest of time I will share just one example. Assuming you have read and own the Harry Potter series, grab your copy of The Order of the Phoenix and turn to page 609. Near the bottom of the page Harry is pulled into Dumbledore’s office by the utterly detestable Madam Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge and an ad hoc trial breaks out, complete with a jury of talking portraits. I often think of this scene because I remember being amazed by the density and deftness of the ensuing action. For the next thirteen spellbinding pages Ms. Rowling treats us to a view into a pseudo-courtroom populated by no less than ten unique voices and at least sixteen total character references, not to mention the numerous spells, jinxes, charms, and Phoenixes flying about. And then there is Harry himself, who all the while is sharing with us his thoughts and suspicions while simultaneously having a non-verbal conversation with Dumbledore on the side. My point… the swiftness and lucidity of this scene would not have been possible had JKR not first built a world where this density of narrative was possible.

To sum: I appreciate it when an author takes the time to build an interesting world for two reasons: one, because I like going to new places; and two, because in the right hands a well built world can act like the rails of a roller coaster.
What keeps you on the edge of your seat?

Munk’s opening line:
The Palace of Fraelok was cracked in all the right places.
Munk’s opening line is yours to keep, use it.

This week's on-theme music: Ohio Players, Love Roller Coaster... say what?